An Introduction to the New IFB
As I prepared for this article, I made it a point to contact each and every pastor involved in the New IFB – including Steven Anderson. Some responded, such as Jonathan Shelley, Tommy McMurtry, Tim Delello, Manly Perry, Matthew Stucky, Benjamin Naim, and even Steven Anderson; while some chose not to respond. Videos, blog articles, sermon transcripts, and interviews were examined as well. In addition to those resources, former New IFB folks, and some Old IFB pastors and members were also contacted, such as Tyler Baker, Tyler Doka, Donnie Romero, Adam Fannin, Sam Gipp, Bob Gray II, Stephen Nichols, Kris Byrne, Tim Coleman, Steven Harper, Stephen Cox, Joshua Gregg, and Elliott Ray (among others).
Many of those who have been contacted and who have responded have expressed a concern that this article will be honest and not just another “hit piece”. If anything it will be honest. Brutally so. I am not interested in sugar coating anything, or soft peddling, or glossing over any theological warts that I might come across during my research for this article. At the same time, I also have no interest in simply bashing anyone for the sake of bashing them.
Some of those whom my friend Todd and I have communicated with while researching this article series, are laboring under the notion that this will be a vindication of something they have been falsely accused of. In some cases it may very well be. In some cases it will not. I am driven by the truth of Scripture. If what you teach is in line with the clear and explicit teaching of God's word, then I will back you without hesitation. If what you teach is not in line with the clear and explicit teaching of God's word, then I will, without hesitation, call you out on it. And that is the basis of this article. It is a comparison of the beliefs, teachings, and practices of Steven Anderson and the New IFB with the clear and explicit word of God.
I must also say, right from the beginning, that I believe the New IFB is comprised of Christian brothers and sisters. I believe it is also comprised of the unsaved, and in some cases, unsaved and actively anti-Christian in their beliefs. I believe there are some New IFB teachers who are solid in their doctrine, and there are some who teach heresy. In the interest of full disclosure, I fully believe Steven Anderson falls squarely within the latter group. If that bothers you, stop reading now lest you become so angry that you sin. And please understand, I do not make this statement lightly or flippantly. It is based on a thoroughly researched examination of his public teachings and beliefs as compared to Scripture. Footnotes are included in this article series (located at the end of each part or section, i.e. after all section 1 articles, after all section 2 articles, etc.) so the reader can view the supporting evidence for themselves. Every document, news article, video, sermon, etc., that is referenced in the footnotes is readily available both online and in the authors archives. As we all know, sometimes embarrassing moments have a habit of disappearing from the internet, or so we tend to think. Many of Steven Anderson's have been “removed” from their original slot on the internet shelf. Many have not, however, escaped Google cache and the Internet Archives Wayback Machine.
Note also, if, after this article series comes out, Steven Anderson or any other others who are called out herein publicly repent and disavow any false teachings they may have previously held, I will not hesitate to note that and update this article series accordingly as soon as I am made aware of their repentance. After all, one of the reasons for this article series is to point out error in the hope that people will repent and either turn back to Christ, or turn to Him for salvation.
There is a question that needs to answered before we begin, and that is, is the New IFB a cult, and is Steven Anderson its head? The answer is both yes and no. On the one hand, there is an aspect to the New IFB that is very cult-like, and very unchristian – even anti-Christian, and Steven Anderson is the undisputed leader of that cult, and his followers can best be described as “Andersonites.” On the other hand, the New IFB is a movement comprised of a loose association of churches, pastors, and adherents who share a set of common beliefs. In this group, Steven Anderson is just another pastor in the movement. Some may turn to him more than other pastors in the movement, but this can be attributed more to the fact he is better known due to his internet presence than any position of mutually agreed upon leadership within the group. It is the first group that this article series will be more concerned with, however, because doctrinal beliefs will encompass both groups, both will be addressed in that regard.
And finally, I must give a shout out to my good friend and brother in Christ, Todd Ferguson. The research project that was necessary to write this article was daunting to say the least. The number of interviews Todd conducted, and the shear number of hours he spent reviewing audio and video recordings is simply phenomenal. Of course, the article series would have still have been done without his help; it just would have taken well into the next century! Thank you so much Todd!
What is the New IFB?The New Independent Fundamental Baptist Movement, or, New IFB, is an affiliation of churches situated around the world that hold to a core set of doctrines which they believe are important and essential. These doctrines include: Salvation by Faith Alone; Once Saved Always Saved; The King James Bible is the Preserved, Inerrant, Infallible Word of God; The Trinity; Soul-Winning; Hard Preaching; Anti-Worldliness; Anti-Calvinism; Anti-Dispensationalism; Anti-Zionism; and the Post-Tribulation, Pre-Wrath Rapture of the Church.1
While these New IFB core doctrines may not seem too far removed from biblical Christianity – at least for the most part, in reality, they are. Although they will be discussed more in depth elsewhere in this series, some brief examples would include:
1. Anti-Calvinism. While not subscribing to Calvinistic or Reformed theology is not something to divide over, in the New IFB mindset, it is. According to New IFB theology, Calvin and every Calvinist or Reformed Christian since him are not, nor have ever been, saved. The New IFB rejects out of hand the “Five Points of Calvinism – TULIP” (otherwise known as the Doctrines of Grace), claiming they are doctrines of devils. When one presses those in the New IFB to describe exactly what Calvinism entails, most are unable to say, and those who try will generally describe something other than historic Calvinism. In other words, although they condemn Calvinism, they do not understand Calvinism.
2. Once Saved Always Saved. An interesting choice for a core doctrine to be sure. At its essence, Once Saved Always Saved (OSAS) teaches that once a person is saved, they cannot lose their salvation. They will persevere until the end, at which time they will go to be with the Lord for all eternity, God will preserve them. In Calvinism, this same doctrine is known as the “Perseverance of the Saints,” the “P” in TULIP, which the New IFB rejects out of hand, without understanding it, and without recognizing that they actually consider it a core doctrine. Score one for Calvinism.
3. The King James Bible is the Preserved, Inerrant, Infallible Word of God. This is what they say they believe, but what they really believe is that the King James Bible is the ONLY Preserved, Inerrant, Infallible Word of God. They believe all other translations and versions of the Bible are corrupt, false, perversions designed to lead people away from God and straight to hell. The New IFB is strictly a “King James Version Only” movement. Addressing the plethora of problems and fallacies with such a position is far beyond the ability of this article. The best sources available that completely refute not only King James Onlyism, but the New IFB extreme brand of KJVOnlyism are: 1) The King James Only Controversy by James R. White (the very best book there is at exposing and refuting KJVOnlyism) and a group of YouTube videos titled, “Refuting 'The King James Only Controversy'” by Steven Anderson, the founder and de facto leader of the New IFB. His “refutation” of James White's book is so woefully inadequate, however, that it actually ends up supporting every argument that James White makes against KJVOnlyism.
4. The Trinity. This is an essential doctrine in the Christian Church. If you get it wrong, then you do not understand who God is, and you end up worshiping a false god.
5. Soul-Winning. This is the practice, often mandatory in the New IFB (as well as the Old IFB), wherein members will go door-to-door sharing the gospel. As commendable a practice as this is, in the New IFB, however, there are some rules involved that make it a somewhat less than biblical practice.
6. Hard Preaching. In the New IFB this is a buzz word which means screaming, yelling, slapping, banging, punching, pounding, kicking, and sometimes jumping on the pulpit. It often involves vociferous “preaching,” shouted invectives and derogatory words and terms; and quite often slander, libel, and defamation of character. It can also entail threats, intimidation, and public humiliation.
7. Anti-Zionism. Read this as anti-Semitism. The New IFB insists it is not anti-Semitism, and rationalizes this by claiming there aren't in actual Jews in the world, so their anti-Semitism isn't really anti-Semitism.
8. the Post-Tribulation, Pre-Wrath Rapture of the Church. Why this is a core doctrine for the New IFB is a mystery. Every Christian knows that Jesus will return. We simply have different ideas as to when that will be. Certainly nothing to divide over, and Christians do not divide of this. The New IFB is an exception to that, however, as they consider anyone who is not post-trib/pre-wrath to be a dyed-in-the-wool God-hating, heretical reprobate. As you will discover in reading this article, the New IFB slings the term “reprobate” around like it was a frisbee at a beach party. But more on that, and the rest of these “core” New IFB doctrines, as well as many other doctrines and practices found in the New IFB will be discussed in greater detail elsewhere in this article series.
In The Beginning...
The first churches in the New IFB Movement were Steven Anderson's Faithful Word Baptist Church in Tempe, Arizona which Anderson founded in 2005; and, Roger Jimenez's Verity Baptist Church in Sacramento, California, which he started five years later in 2010.2
Although these two pastors and their churches form the foundation of the New IFB, its roots go back much further in time, and farther east geographically. All the way back to the 1980's and '90's; and east to Hammond, Indiana and Pastor Jack Hyles of the First Baptist Church of Hammond. Jack Hyles was, if not the first Independent Fundamental Baptist, he was certainly one of the first, and probably the most influential. In fact, his influence continues to be felt even today, almost twenty years after his death, and in spite of the numerous scandals surrounding his name, his church, and the college he founded, Hyles-Anderson College.
In about 2003, Steven Anderson approached his then pastor, Stephen Nichols, and told him he wanted to attend Bible college, specifically Hyles-Anderson college in Crown Point, Indiana. Although Pastor Nichols told Anderson he could not recommend Hyles-Anderson due to Nichols' misgivings about its president Jack Schaap, Anderson decided to enroll in the college, which he soon did, moving his young family to Indiana.3
Hyles-Anderson college was founded by Independent Fundamental Baptist preacher, Jack Hyles in 1972 as a ministry of his church, First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana.4
Although Hyles was not the original pastor of First Baptist, he nevertheless viewed the church as his own personal fiefdom and he ruled it as such. Many who attended First Baptist during Jack Hyles' tenure, describe the atmosphere of the church as tense and on edge. Hyles demanded complete and total obedience and loyalty from his congregation, and there were those in the congregation who were more than happy to let him know when others were not maintaining those standards that he set. He enforced rules which he had implemented, that governed what type of clothing could be worn by his congregants – both in and out of church, hair styles, and more. There were some who claimed that members would not even rearrange the furniture in their homes without his permission and input, such was the totality of his iron-fisted rule.
Hyles also demanded the women of his congregation to be completely submissive and subservient to the men in their lives, beginning with their fathers, then their husbands, and finally the male leadership of the church. Hyles placed so much emphasis on the leadership of the man of the house, that if one of the men of his congregation was discovered to be in an adulterous relationship, Hyles looked first to the wife as the one to blame. Hyles felt certain that either the wife had driven her husband to do such a terrible thing, or, the other woman (or girl as the case sometimes was) did something to lure and trap the man into such a relationship. This enforced submissiveness and subservience served to open the door for all manner of sexually immoral behavior, including pedophilia.5
One former member who attended First Baptist Church when Hyles was pastor, described Hyles as having a terrible temper which exploded at times in outbursts of anger. The former member said Hyles used this to control those in his congregation. They were, to be blunt, afraid of him. In fact, Hyles wielded such control over his congregation that during a sermon given in 1990, Hyles pretended to pour poison into a glass. He then asked one of his associate pastors, Johnny Colsten, if he would drink it. Colsten said that he would. Reporters featured in a 1993 documentary on Jack Hyles and First Baptist said the whole thing had the “ring of Jonestown to it.” Jonestown, Guyana was the site of a 1978 mass suicide of the followers of Jim Jones, by drinking poison laced Kool-Aid. Hyles later claimed during an interview that the poison stunt was nothing more than a joke.6
Hyles' daughter Linda Murphrey, has spoken out about her father and what she calls the “cult” which he led, calling her life with him and in his church a “bizarre world.”7 During one interview she related that his followers were like “zombies” who were unhesitatingly “willing to believe and obey whatever he said.” Murphrey continued, saying, “He [her father Jack Hyles] used to joke around about 'drinking the Kool-Aid,' but that was never funny to me because I knew that those people really would have done anything he told them to do. Anything.”8 She reiterated this during a TEDtalk, stating very clearly that if Jack Hyles told his staff and congregation to do so, “they would drink the Kool-Aid,” and do so without hesitation.9
British historian John Dalberg-Acton once said, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Jack Hyles was a living example of just how true this saying is. In 1989 a letter written by Judy Nischik Johnson, the daughter of Victor Nischik (an elder at Hyles' church), and Jennie Nischik (who also worked for Jack Hyles as his secretary) was sent to The Biblical Evangelist publication who in turn published the letter. It was a bombshell. In her letter Mrs. Nischik Johnson revealed that Jack Hyles and her mother Jennie had been in a decades long adulterous relationship.10
Although Hyles always denied the accusation (as his supporters continue to blindly do so), even his own family has admitted it was true. Hyles' daughter Linda has revealed that behind closed doors and away from the eyes and ears of his supporters, Jack Hyles hated his wife and taught their children to hate her as well. He flaunted his relationship with Jennie Nitschik by purchasing a large house for the Nitschiks just around the corner from the Hyles home. Linda Hyles Murphey has described how they could stand on their back porch and look directly into the back yard of the Nitschik home.11
Hyles was also known to call Victor Nitschik and tell him to send his wife Jennie to Hyles office, ostensibly for dictation, but more often where they would engage in their trysts. One wonders if Hyles took some sort of perverse pleasure in this.
News of the scandal resulting from Judy Nitschik Johnson's letter spread throughout Hyles-Anderson college, First Baptist Church, and around the country, and it followed Jack Hyles to his death in 2001.
One of the results of scandals such as the Jack Hyles scandal is that it effects so many people. Not just the families of those involved, but also tending to effect anyone with a connection to those involved. The Jack Hyles scandal was no exception.
In 1998 Pastor Joseph Combs and his wife were charged with “kidnapping, aggravated assault, perjury, and seven counts of rape” all perpetrated on their adopted daughter Esther over a period of 20 years. They were convicted in 2000 and sentenced to 179 years. Pastor Combs was a professor at Hyles-Anderson college, and both were faithful members of Hyles' church, First Baptist Church of Hammond. The story made national news.12
Jack Hyles son, David Hyles, a pastor himself, was also discovered to have been having adulterous relationships with dozens of women. He too fell in disgrace.13
Like father like son.
Jack Hyles' hand picked successor was his son-in-law Jack Schaap (pronounced Skop, rhyming with hop). He was in charge of both Hyles-Anderson college and First Baptist Church of Hammond as its pastor. Schaap became known for his flamboyant preaching style, often employing sexual innuendo and off-color comments. He was also known for employing the same or similar tactics Jack Hyles had employed in managing First Baptist Church, and he was known for being overbearing and controlling. In 2012 it was revealed that Schaap had been having adulterous relationships beginning at least in 2004 – the year after Steven Anderson enrolled in Hyles-Anderson. In 2013 Schaap was convicted of transporting a 16 year old girl across state lines for the purpose of having sex with her. He was sentenced to 12 years in prison.14
Initially Schaap blamed his ignorance of the law, claiming he didn't know it was illegal to have sex with minor children. Then he actually blamed Christ Himself, saying Jesus wanted him to have an adulterous relationship with a young underage girl. Later he relied on one of Jack Hyles' teachings, and he blamed the girl, saying it was all her fault.15
In total, at least 18 people connected with Hyles-Anderson college and First Baptist Church of Hammond have been convicted of pedophilic molestation charges.16
In addition there have been several others who have been publicly accused by their victims, but managed to escape prosecution, such as one Hyles-Anderson graduate who managed to hide incriminating evidence until the statute of limitations expired, and another who avoided being charged by committing suicide in his jail cell. And then there is one of the most notorious Hyles-Anderson alumnus, David Hyles, the son of Jack Hyles. Although he has never been convicted of child molestation, several of his victims have come forward naming him as their rapist. He was also investigated during the mysterious deaths of his girlfriends infant son, and their 5-year old son. David Hyles has also been discovered to have engaged in dozens of adulterous relationships.
It is important to note that none of this is to say or imply that Steven Anderson has been involved in anything like the scandals noted here, especially since there is no evidence to say he has. It does, however, demonstrate the fallen nature and the anti-Christian environment of the school where Steven Anderson learned to be a pastor. Given his anger issues, his temper and outbursts, his demand for loyalty and petulant puerile tantrums when he doesn't get it, the manipulation through public shaming and condemnation he employs to control his congregation (as well as other pastors in the New IFB) are all tactics employed by Jack Hyles and Jack Schaap. Recently, in the midst of the Romero/ Fannin/ Anderson/ Shelley debacle (more on that later in this article series), Steven Anderson's new, up and coming protégé (read that as “yes man”), Chris Segura, preached a sermon titled, “God, the Pastor and You.” In this sermon, Mr. Segura emphasized the importance of agreeing with the pastor even when the pastor is wrong. This would, of course, include if and when the pastor teaches heresy. After all, Mr. Segura reasoned, since God placed the pastor into that church, even when he is wrong, he is still God's chosen servant; or, as in Steven Anderson's case, God's chosen prophet.17 While Chris Segura has been with Anderson for some years now, he still had to wait his turn in the queue so to speak, to be moved into the “current protégé” spot. He's in that spot now, and given the subject matter of his sermon, Anderson should be pleased, as he is teaching and reinforcing Anderson's desire for complete and total loyalty within his church.18 Note: HIS church.
Clearly, Steven Anderson learned quite a bit during his time at Hyles-Anderson and First Baptist Church of Hammond. Although he died before Steven Anderson attended his school and church, it is clear Jack Hyles was a huge influence on Steven Anderson (further supported by Anderson's inclusion of Hyles' articles on some of his websites, and videos of Hyles on his YouTube channel), and if he could see Anderson today, he would be proud.
It's difficult to believe that Steven Anderson was oblivious to the environment he had placed himself in back in 2003 when he enrolled in Hyles-Anderson college. Jack Hyles had passed away only 2 years earlier, and it had been only 3 years since Joseph and Evangeline Coombs were sentenced. Not only was the college still run the way Jack Hyles had run it, but the church, First Baptist, was as well under the leadership of Hyles' son-in-law, Jack Schaap. Like Hyles, Jack Schaap was domineering, manipulative, and used his outbursts as a method of controlling his congregation. Schaap was also known to interject highly sexualized analogies and demonstrations into his sermons.
As a student at Hyles-Anderson, Steven Anderson would have been mandatorily required to attend services at First Baptist where he would have been exposed to the worldly preaching style and manipulative techniques of Jack Schaap from his first Sunday there. And yet, all Anderson will say is that when he was in his senior year, with only a couple of months before his graduation, with cap and gown already ordered, he began to notice something wasn't right and that things were “getting weird.” Steven Anderson would have us believe that it took 26 months of constant exposure to the sexually immoral history of Hyles-Anderson, which included over 100 Sunday morning sermons (not to mention Sunday evening sermons) by Jack Schaap, before Anderson noticed something wasn't right, and that things were getting weird. That in itself is a hard story to swallow. But be that as it may, in November 2005 Anderson then made the decision to leave Hyles-Anderson college. He returned briefly to Sacramento, California, before moving himself and his family on to Tempe, Arizona where he started Faithful Word Baptist Church.19
Roger Jimenez's ministry beginnings were every bit as controversial as Steven Anderson's. Both had pastors during those formative years that were anything but Christ-like. Jimenez left Regency Baptist church after meeting Steven Anderson there when Anderson was 20-years old, and Jimenez was an impressionable 16-year old teenager.20 Jimenez became infatuated with Anderson and his beliefs, and began to look up to him as a hero-figure.21 Anderson has said that he taught Roger Jimenez a lot of what he now believes as well as exerting a strong influence on him.22 So when Anderson left Regency Baptist, it was not surprising that Jimenez left as well, after strongly criticizing the church and its pastor, slinging accusations against them that in retrospect can be seen as strongly Anderson-like. According to Jimenez's former pastor, Jimenez also began speaking negatively about him to other pastors,23 no doubt in an attempt to discredit him – a practice that has also been attributed to Steven Anderson.24
Jimenez found his way to Vacaville, California where he attended Fellowship Baptist Church, an Independent Fundamental Baptist church led by Pastor Mark Lewis, an ex-con who “got religion” and started a church. It was Mark Lewis who became the primary influence in the life of a young Roger Jimenez, and it was Mark Lewis who sent Jimenez out to start his own church, Verity Baptist in Sacramento, California.25
Just as Anderson's spiritual hero Jack Hyles, his hand picked successor Jack Schaap, and other Hyles-Anderson alumni had done; Lewis was leading a double life where he pastored a church on Sunday, and engaged in illicit activities during the remainder of the week.
Just as it is important to understand the environment of Hyles-Anderson where Steven Anderson learned to be a pastor, it is also important to understand the environment where Roger Jimenez underwent his pastoral training.
Joanna Lynn Hunter met Mark Lewis in the early 1990's when they were in High School together. It wasn't long before they became an item. In 1997 Lewis was convicted of felony domestic violence after he attacked Joanna, and he served some time as a result. The two were married in 2000, and life with Mark Lewis was filled with repeated, documented, violence against her, including two separate incidents where he beat her so badly she had to be hospitalized. In one incident, Joanna related she was “hung up on the wall, choked, slapped, punched, kicked, thrown and badly beaten up by Mark.” Eleven years after her wedding to Mark Lewis she was dead. She was found “hanging” in a closet by her husband.
It was later revealed that during their marriage Mark Lewis had been involved in at least one adulterous relationship, and there were hard questions being asked by outsiders regarding financial improprieties. To top it all off, Joanna had made it known that she planned to leave him. Not long after making that decision, Joanna's body was found in a closet. One end of a terry cloth robe tie wrapped around her neck and the other end to a closet clothes rod. Her feet were touching the ground. Lewis said he was outside playing basketball with a friend when it happened, claiming he found her later. Instead of cutting her down, however, and instead of trying to resuscitate her, instead of calling 911 as any normal person would do, Mark Lewis called a friend. Surprisingly, Joanna Lewis' death was ruled a suicide. However, after Lewis' attacks on his girlfriend, police reopened the case, investigating her death as a homicide.
Within 24 hours of his wife's death, Lewis was on the phone to his girlfriend, a divorced former Sunday School teacher from his church, Fellowship Baptist. It wasn't long, however, that this relationship was also foundering. When his girlfriend discovered Lewis was sending lewd texts and nude photos of himself to female congregants, including a minor teenage girl who had been attending the church since she was 5, his girlfriend ended their relationship. That is when her Mark Lewis nightmare began.
Lewis began what can only be termed a campaign of terror. His basic pattern consisted of phoning or texting his former girlfriend asking to see her, she would refuse, he would then threaten her, and then some act of vandalism would happen to her property. These things occurred all while Mark Lewis pastoring Fellowship Baptist Church. First she found her car windshield smashed. Then another car window, then a window of her sister's car suffered the same fate. When smashed car windows didn't produce the desired results, the attacks escalated; and one night the bushes in front of home were set on fire. Lewis' threats and vandalism finally culminated in the firebombing of her home one night, while she, her children, and her parents were asleep inside. Although the home did catch fire, it was quickly extinguished and no one was physically injured. It was later revealed that Lewis had hired a fellow ex-con to do the firebombing for $300.
At the time when Mark Lewis hired his friend to firebomb his ex-girlfriends home, he had already been the subject of a two-year undercover investigation by the Vacaville Police Department, on suspicion of dealing methamphetamine after several confidential informants revealed to police that he had been both dealing and using the drug. The ex-con he hired to firebomb his ex-girlfriends home also confessed that he had smoked methamphetamine with Mark Lewis the night of the attack. And, when he was arrested, a subsequent search of his huge five-bedroom, five-bath home turned up an illegal handgun as well as methamphetamine. Police later filed documents linking Mark Lewis to numerous other crimes including burglaries, acts of vandalism, and witness intimidation.
Agreeing to a plea arrangement with the prosecuting attorney, Lewis pleaded no contest to arson and stalking. He was sentenced to 8 years in prison.
Several people have come forward revealing that Mark Lewis was highly manipulative, using his position of church pastor to intimidate, influence and use people to do his bidding and gain their loyalty. They revealed that Lewis would provide these people with food, shelter, cars, cellphones, and money, and then pressure them to commit crimes for him such as purchasing methamphetamine, vandalizing property, and terrorizing those who either left, or tried to leave him. This is a common tactic used by prison inmates, and something Lewis no doubt learned and perfected during his previous incarceration.
After he was initially arrested, Lewis quickly posted a $500,000 bond using his church as collateral, and was released from jail. However, when it was discovered he had fraudulently registered his church in the first place, he was rearrested with a more than $1 million bail imposed. Since his rearrest, his unbelievably loyal and dedicated followers began selling off Lewis' belongings from his home, as well as pieces from his church, in an effort to raise enough to have him again released on bail. They also planned to sell his house if need be. Claiming they must help their leader, and the extent to which they are willing to go in order to do so, demonstrates the cult-like atmosphere, similar to that at First Baptist Church of Hammond, that Mark Lewis created, cultivated, and used to his advantage.26
When looking at Roger Jimenez, it is important to note that the unbiblical, anti-Christian behavior of his pastor, Mark Lewis, concerning Lewis' wife; as well as the documented manipulative, controlling, and cult-like manner in which he managed his congregation, was all occurring while Jimenez attended Lewis' Church. It was in this environment that Jimenez received his pastoral training. And as noted, it was Mark Lewis who sent Roger Jimenez out to start Verity Baptist Church.27
Again, none of this is to say or imply that Roger Jimenez is involved in any of the crimes his former pastor and mentor was involved in. But as with Anderson and Hyles-Anderson College, it does demonstrate the depraved cult-like environment that Jimenez placed himself in, and the cult leader that he placed himself under. No doubt, Mark Lewis was a strong and aggressive personality, much as Steven Anderson is; and no doubt Roger Jimenez was as submissive and subservient to Lewis as he seems to he seems to be around Steven Anderson.
Thus began the New IFB movement. First with Anderson in Tempe, Arizona with Faithful Word Baptist Church, and then with Roger Jimenez in Sacramento, California with Verity Baptist Church. Steven Anderson is the acknowledged founder and leader of the New IFB Movement. Between Steven Anderson and Roger Jimenez, Anderson is far more outgoing with an aggressive “in-your-face” demeanor and method of preaching; as if he perpetually carries a chip on his shoulder, ready to confront anyone from congregants who discuss things behind his back without his permission, to the inevitable protestors outside of his strip-mall church. One has to wonder how those protests have affected the businesses around him.28
Jimenez, on the other hand is far more subdued in his interactions with others. While he tries to emulate Anderson's fever-pitched pulpit rantings, he just doesn't quite match Anderson's manufactured fury. One might attribute this to Jimenez's spiritual upbringing under the outgoing, domineering, manipulative and controlling Mark Lewis, while attributing Anderson's confrontational over-the-top showmanship to his exposure to Jack Schaap and the teaching and methodology of Jack Hyles. Hyles, Schaap, and Anderson are very similar in their styles of preaching and church management, while Jimenez seems to be in a subservient role to Steven Anderson, just as he likely was to Mark Lewis. Anderson does have a soft spot for his friend Roger Jimenez, however, as he demonstrated when he became enraged and screamed insults at his deacon before firing him and kicking him out of the church simply because the deacon had been discussing with some friends a modalistic view of the Trinity; while only quietly and mildly “disagreeing” with Jimenez when it became known that he was actually teaching modalism from his pulpit.29 More on that later.
Due to his seemingly insatiable need to be constantly in the public view – something he can't very well do in a suburban strip mall – Steven Anderson has branched out to the World Wide Web, where he now commands a global audience. Although Roger Jimenez, and the other New IFB pastors also place their videos online for all to watch, and the movement has developed its favorite New IFB “celebrities” such as “Ben the Baptist” (a pseudonym for Benjamin Naim) and “Brother Jeff” (who is actually Jeff Utzler, or Jeff Kutzler, as he uses both names). None of the New IFB “celebrities” however, can match the showmanship of Steven Anderson, the superstar of the New IFB Movement.
It is a sad thing to watch as these New IFB pastors and members struggle to outdo one another other on YouTube. They all try to be just a little more over-the-top, just a little more controversial, and hopefully become more popular than the others, hoping to possibly become the next Steven Anderson. They all scream at the congregations they preach to – just like Steven Anderson (they call this “hard preaching”), just not quite as forcefully as he does. They all pound their pulpits like Steven Anderson, just not quite as hard as Anderson does. They all employ the use of disparaging language like Steven Anderson, just not with the same intensity as Anderson. Judging from Anderson's multiple internet venues, as well as his popularity and influence among several different segments of society ranging anywhere from those in the “Patriot” Movement to “Neo-Nazis”, these other New IFB pastors have quite a task ahead of them to even come close to the top dog. But they do try. Oh, how they try.
Steven Anderson's internet empire is actually something to behold, as the many websites and venues he manages are quite impressive given the wide variety of belief systems they cater to. Not only does Anderson have his strip mall church with a weekly average of 350 people attending his Sunday morning services; but he also operates a church website which features hundreds of free videos ranging from sermons to full length “documentaries”30 he has produced with his friend Paul Wittenberger, a former Hollywood electrical technician best known for his work on low budget horror films and soft core homosexual pornographic films.31
Many of Anderson's sermons and “documentaries” are also available in a multitude of languages capable of spreading his message around the world. He also manages several YouTube channels32 and a separate website called “Teach All Nations” which claims to offer “Full Length Documentaries, Bible Preaching, and Other Bible Videos” with “Content Translated Into Over 100 Different Languages.” This website and his multiple YouTube channels serve to expose the world to Steven Anderson and his decidedly unbiblical worldview.33
Anderson also runs the “KJV Prophecy” website which caters to those who want to hear Anderson's preaching on prophecy as well as his “Pre-Wrath Rapture” views.34
He runs the “Hard Preaching” website on which he has promotes those pastors within the New IFB whom Anderson feels are “hard” enough in their preaching. Namely, himself, David Berzins, Donnie Romero, Roger Jimenez, and Manly Perry. The site advertises itself as featuring, “Only the hardest preaching will be featured on this site. No boring preaching will be tolerated. Not even a little bit. None. NEVER! It's Not Going To Happen!”35
Anderson also runs the “Repentance Blacklist” website which panders to those who refuse to repent of their sins, refuse to accept the fact that Jesus is their Lord, and yet still want to call themselves Christians. It also serves to condemn numerous unbelievers and pseudo-Christians, as well as several Bible believing Christians. These are added for no reason other than they preach the Bible while disagreeing with Anderson.36
He also operates the “True Born Sons of Liberty” website which advocates for, among other things: shutting down and doing away with the IRS, the Federal Reserve, the Department of Homeland Security, and all Child Protective Services; ending all Social Security, Medicare, Welfare, Food Stamps, WIC and other programs that help the poor; and restoring “individual sovereignty.” This website panders to several groups including the so-called “Patriot” groups, the “Sovereign Citizen” movement, the Anti-Tax groups, Neo-Nazi's, and other Nationalist type groups.37
Anderson also operates the “Word of Truth Baptist Church” website38 which seems to have only one function, and that is to funnel online donations to Steven Anderson after PayPal deactivated his and his church's account and he was banned from using the service.39 This website features only two buttons. One which takes the visitor to a list of doctrinal beliefs (which not surprisingly they are the same as Anderson's church) and the other to a donate page. Many, if not most of Anderson's YouTube videos also contain a link which states “click here if you wish to donate to Faithful Word Baptist Church,” but clicking on the link takes one to the “Word of Truth Baptist Church” donate page. Anderson does the same thing on some of his websites, while others link to his “True Born Sons of Liberty” donate page. Regardless of which donate page or link one clicks on, however, the result is the same – a donation to Steven L. Anderson, and to no one else.40
Links for Series Articles Posted Thus Far:
Steven Anderson and the New IFB Movement -- Update #1